Sep 11, 2020

Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps

Continuing with our series on entering product design. I hope you start to consider stopping looking for the perfect recipe or silver bullet.

At this point, I suspect you wonder if you don’t follow steps, then what should you hang onto?

You should be relying on principles instead of steps.

Let me reintroduce you to principles. Yes, you read it right: reintroduce. In your life, realizing it or not, you already make decisions with the help of principles. For example, if it’s raining, you know you shouldn’t get wet, or you can get sick. So you decide to either put an umbrella up or take shelter. However, on some occasions, you might need to get wet because you have to catch up on the last bus of the day.

In that example, you assess the situation using the principles: avoid getting wet whenever possible. Yet, it’s still flexible enough so you can consider the other factors and make a proper trade-off: last bus to catch.

Imagine if you follow steps. If raining, step 1: take a shelter, step 2: wait, and step 3: go home. You’ll be walking all night.

There I loosely explained how principles help us in the real world scenario to make a better decision while allowing you to consider the larger picture.

Principles will be your best friend as a product designer when working on a complex problem.

Product designer must work creatively and critically. You are not working in a manufacture’s assembly line and follow steps. You solve problems.

Now, let’s use Design Thinking as our example. As you read the word design thinking, your head might picture the famous hexagons: understand, define, prototype, test, build. Beware that is a step. Like I emphasized before, you shouldn’t merely follow steps without understanding the underlying principles. Unfortunately, many product designers are stuck with that step and unable to see beyond it.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced product designer. You might think of the three core principles of design thinking: 1) Empathize and observe user, 2) Endless iteration, and 3) Radical collaboration. Or you might think of the three core consideration areas 1) Valuability, 2) Viability, and 3) Feasibility.

When building a product, you should use those core principles to produce a product that valuable for customer to buy, viable for the legal and business, and feasible in the technology perspective.

Just to be clear – there are a lot of principles and not just the three I mentioned above. The key is don’t be a rigid product designer, your work is so different with engineers who have more certainty to build something with code. I’m not trying to underestimate the importance of engineers, but the nature of our work is different.

I will unpack each principle and share a few tools you can use later in part 2 of this series. In the next chapter, I’d love to clear up a common misunderstanding about business.





Sep 30

When was the last time you reflect?

Sep 29

Methods are tools

Sep 24

How can I get a bigger project?

Sep 23

Entering product design – Chapter 7: Craft and analysis

Sep 22

Entering product design – Chapter 6: Narrow collaborator

Sep 21

Entering product design – Chapter 5: Soloist product designers

Sep 17

Entering product design – Chapter 4: Product designer key skill areas

Sep 14

Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business

Sep 11

Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps

Sep 10

Entering product design – Chapter 1: Silver bullet

Sep 10

Entering product design – Overview

Sep 04

SAR: A framework for concise storytelling

Aug 27

Start your design with outcome

Aug 24

New medium post: Collaboration ground for design systems

Aug 17

Action points

Aug 13

Pulse check: Listen to your team

Aug 11

You should actively apply for a new job

Aug 10

Design systems' area of influence: Service (3/3)

Aug 04

Design systems' area of influence: Offering (2/3)

Aug 03

Design systems' area of influence: Identity (1/3)

Aug 01

My mom ran me to the hospital

Jul 29

Reader question: Do we need to build MVP for every product?

Jul 27

Reader question: Do I need formal design education?

Jul 24

Recognize assumptions

Jul 21

Sandbox for your personal growth

Jul 20

Start your week with questions

Jul 17

Specificity in feedback

Jul 15

Don't sell the design. Sell the business impact

Jul 14

Overwhelming inspiration

Jul 13

The framing trap

Jul 10

Everyone vs. Specific

Jul 09

The blind horse designer

Jul 08

Set the context in your meeting

Jul 07

Let's just try and see what happens

Jul 06

Managing expectation

Jul 05

Low UX maturity company

Jun 17

A simple exercise for career reflection

May 31

The “Coach sheet” – A paper-based system for people management

May 26

Bring calm to your remote team

Feb 13

Workshops can be more efficient than meetings

Feb 07

3 questions designers should be asking

Feb 06

Walking 1on1: A refreshing way to connect


Nov 21

My hope for stubborn 'Innovators'

Jul 18

Five simple actions to help you gain more time

Apr 23

Evolving Product Experience Principles at Bukalapak

Mar 09

A framework to give better design feedback: Analyze, Discuss, Suggest

Jan 28

Making a decision is hard, here's my rule of thumb


Dec 04

Essential skills for Product Designers

Nov 16

Quick life update

Nov 06

Things I learned from working at Shopify

Oct 15

About design critique

Sep 17

Common icon design problems you should avoid

Sep 06

Preface: Welcome to